NFL Draft Profile: NC State OT Ikem Ekwonu

by Pat Pryor
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Ikem Ekwonu had a stellar career at NC State and is one of the premier offensive line talents in the NFL Draft. As a freshman he started seven games at left tackle and won the team’s co-offensive lineman of the year. As a sophomore he switched between both tackle and guard while earning All-ACC honors.  In 2021, he protected the blind side and was named an AP All-American.

NFL Draft Measurables

Height 6’4 Wingspan Vertical 29″
Weight 310 40-time 4.93 Bench
Hand 10-1/8″ Shuttle 4.73 3-Cone 7.82
Arm 34” Broad Jump 9′ RAS 8.22U

How We Grade Players

Grade Player Meaning Grade Player Meaning
9.5-10 Generational Player 6.25-6.75 Average Starter
9-9.49 Top of Position 5.5-6.25 Below-Average Starter
8.5-8.99 All-Pro Caliber 5-5.4 Developmental Player
8-8.49 High End Starter 4.5-4.9 Special Teams Player
7.5-7.99 Pro-Bowl Caliber Player 4-4.4 Practice Squad
7-7.49 Above Average Starter 3-4 Journeyman PS
6.75-6.99 Slightly Above-Average 0-2.9 Free Agent

How We Grade Traits

Grade Trait Meaning Grade Trait Meaning
9.5-10 Nearly Perfect 6-6.4 Average
9-9.4 Top of Position 5.5-5.9 Below-Average
8.5-9 Great 5-5.4 Below-Average
8-8.4 Very Good 4.5-4.9 Poor
7.5-7.9 Good 4-4.4 Bad
7-7.4 Above Average 3-4 Very Bad
6.5-6.9 Slightly Above Average 0-2.9 Non-Existent

NFL Draft Evaluation

Trait Grade Trait Grade Trait Grade
Size 5.75 Awareness 8.5
Movement 9.25 Versatility 9.25
Play Strength 8.75 Agility 7
Anchor 8.75 Finishing 8.5
Hand Placement 7.25 Second Level 8.5
Hand Power 8.5 Footwork 7.75
Run Blocking 9 Leg Drive 8.75
Pass Blocking 8.25 Overall (OT) 8.34 Overall (IOL) 8.42

Strengths

Ikem Ekwonu has an incredible, nonstop motor for an offensive lineman in this NFL Draft class. He moves very fast, moves better than anyone his size should be able to. Violent run blocker who can take up multiple defenders and finish them. Top tier strength, knocks defenders off their feet or drives them out of the play with ease. Moves to the second level with ease and finds blockers well. Anchors extremely well on passes, drives back defenders in run blocking and jump pass sets. Very clean footwork, doesn’t waste movement. Reaches defenders with elite wingspan and powerful punches. Used on many different play styles, can keep up with outside runs. Has experience at guard and tackle.

Weaknesses

Ikem Ekwonu is a top prospect in this NFL Draft class, but still has his weaknesses. He can miss defenders when sliding in pass protection. Doesn’t always finish well in vertical pass sets. Inconsistent hand placement against finesse moves. Below average height and weight. Can miss defenders with hands on the second level.

Summary

Ikem Ekwonu is a certified people-mover in this NFL Draft class. I’m not sure who goes about certifying it but that’s what I consider Ekwonu. He’s an absolute bulldozer in the run game and a great pass protector as well. He brings fantastic physical traits while also simply having incredible skill. He will be a high level starter at either guard or tackle. His floor is that of a starting guard due to his physical traits. His abilities at either position make him a high target for many teams. He’ll be the first or second tackle off the board, and there’s no reason to question why. He’s a versatile lineman with a great floor and ceiling. There’s no can’t miss prospects in any draft, but Ekwonu comes close, and could end up being the best player in the class.

Scheme Fit: Run-Heavy Offense
Team Fits: BAL, NYG
Floor: Starting guard
Ceiling: All-Pro Tackle
Round Grade/Projection: Top-5 Pick

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